Grade: B-. Relationships come and relationships go in this offbeat tale of contemporary romance.
Relationships come and relationships go in this offbeat tale of contemporary romance. And all of the relationships seem to center around perky-happy-sad-confused Hannah (Greta Gerwig), who sweeps (or is swept) in and out of them as if they were everyday occurrences.
It’s a film in which everyone wants to be loved, but no one knows how to go about grabbing hold of the elusive condition. What makes the film work well is its feeling of authenticity, that audiences are eavesdropping on real people speaking real, not written, words from the heart.
In fact, the writing is credited to director Joe Swanberg, along with most of the cast — Gerwig, Kent Osborne, Andrew Bujalski, Mark Duplass, Ry Russo-Young and Kevin Bewersdorf.
Though it’s not actually stated anywhere, the film appears to have been made up as it went along. That’s generally not a good idea, but in this case, it works at just about every level.
We completely believe Mike (Duplass) when he tells Hannah that he’s unhappy at work
and with his band and that he just wants to go to the beach. But no, she still has to go to her job, which involves working on a three-person team that writes TV scripts (though there’s no Dick Van Dyke atmosphere here).
Soon enough, for no discernible reason, she wants to break it off with Mike. But he says, “No, I’m breaking up with you.” He tells her he’s not upset, but she says that she is.
And so begins a series of scenes featuring people talking talking talking, but not really listening. The director and his band of writer-actors have channeled a bit of Henry Jaglom’s style of presenting uneasy male-female situations.
Hannah is so obviously blue, her two work pals try hard to cheer her up. All is good, till she starts to see one of them a little differently than before. Doesn’t she know that dating someone at work is a bad idea? Doesn’t she realize that dating one of only two other people in her office might cause a few problems with the third one?
No, she doesn’t. She’s oblivious. And yes, it does. Jealousy blooms.
There are no bad people in this film (although there is an annoyingly clueless boss), but most of the characters are either weak or unable to think things through properly, at least about matters of the heart. One of them suffers from depression, another admits to being “chronically dissatisfied.”
Yet the (non)script is also loaded with wonderful tidbits of information, such as the fact that Thomas Jefferson introduced ice cream to the United States and that when a person shakes someone’s hand, it show that he’s not carrying a weapon.
All good stuff to know. But the best part is when the film manages to mix nudity with trumpet playing. Now that is original.